Economic Interventions Needed to Reduce Substance Abuse

Transitioning from teenager to young adult has always been tricky. Gone are the days where the biggest concerns were friends and school. Young adults are expected to work, save money, pay bills and make adult decisions. However, the current climate in the United States has made it difficult for young adults to flourish and transition into adulthood. The economy has not quite recovered and millions of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed. This unemployment problem has contributed to more young adults to commit crimes, develop substance abuse problems and enter into the prison system.

“These young people are missing key educational and employment experiences and are at increased risk for a host of negative outcomes: long spells of unemployment, poverty, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and incarceration,” explained a recent report released by the Brookings Institute.

This research seems to be at odds with the fact that there are more teenagers graduating from high school and more young adults graduating from college than ever before. However, when they are unable to secure reliable employment, temptations like drugs and alcohol, become harder to stay away from, and various forms of interventions are needed. These interventions aren’t just for those who become addicted, but also to help prevent others from getting addicted. Having more responsibilities in life and feeling more self-worth due to meaningful contribution helps to remove some of the stressors and triggers for possible substance abuse.

Often times drug abuse and alcohol abuse stem from experimentation. Experts agree that this experimentation can either be avoided or minimized with increased responsibilities. However, young adults who are unable to find jobs do not have that added responsibility and often spend their days being idle. It has long been understood in the addiction treatment and prevention field that boredom is a major factor in early drug use.

In order to conduct the study, researchers poured over data gathered from the Census Bureau. Information from 2008 – 2014 showed that youths were more likely to be unemployed in the future if they do not receive important educational and work experiences. One way to avoid future substance abuse problems, unemployment and criminal activity is to ensure that children and teenagers are given ample opportunity to acquire more life skills.

Despite the difficulty many face, there seems to be more actual opportunity, just not in the traditional sense. There are more ways than ever for people to be self-employed and earn a nice living through online mediums, for example. Skills to survive in today’s economy would be a much-needed intervention for life as a whole, because there are fewer jobs available today that have pensions or other retirement plans than those of just a couple generations ago.